Here's an overview of some of the more effective treatments for ADHD based on current research.
I don't have time to go into this subject in depth, because it's not the main topic of this article. A board certified child psychiatrist is the MD most qualified doctor you can work with, since s/he is specially trained to work with psychiatric conditions for children.
Do realize that medication helps curb some of the symptoms of impulsivity, distractibility, and difficulty focusing and paying attention. However, medications will not teach social skills or good choices.
Behavioral Parent Training
Let me qualify this by telling you that you are not a bad parent! You probably didn't ever plan on dealing with this condition when you signed up for parenthood, yet here you are!
The good news is that you can learn some specific strategies for helping your child learn the skills to succeed academically, socially, and in general.
With a therapist or through special classes, you can learn how to construct and administer positive consequences (for positive behaviors you are hoping to reinforce) and negative consequences (for behaviors you are hoping to curb).
Classroom Intervention Training
This type of training includes collaboration between a professional skilled in understanding Attention Deficit disorder, the parents, and the teacher. Fortunately, once an official diagnosis has been documented, most schools can implement a 504 Plan, which seeks to assist the child with learning and organization strategies.
In addition, the school psychologist and/or school social worker should have a good grasp of ADD and appropriate interventions. In addition, if you and your child are working with a good therapist, that therapist can coordinate care with the school team to help them understand what some appropriate interventions may be.
The Daily Report Card
This daily report card will target the most frequently occurring and troublesome behaviors. Rather than focusing on "Don't Do" certain behaviors, it should be focused on a positive behavior. For example, "Participate Effectively In Class." Then, there will be specific intstructions: a) I will look at the teacher when spoken to b) I will listen before speaking c) I will listen without talking to others. This daily report card can be reviewed with the parent before school, and then again with the teacher after school. The child can then rate him/herself on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best compliance, and the teacher can also rate the child's progress.
Rewards can be given for a certain number of points at the end of the week, both at school and at home. As the behavioral goal is reached for one behavior, a second behavior can then be added.
Intensive Behavioral Peer Intervention
Intensive Behavioral Peer Intervention is great in theory, but difficult to implement. This is social skill building that takes place in a summer recreation type program. For example, the University of Buffalo in New York has a summer program that contains a summer camp type setting for kids where they have structured and systematic teaching of social skills, academic skills, how to cooperate in teams, and how to problem solve. Since kids are placed with other ADD kids, friendships are built and self confidence is forged as they learn new skills.
The challenge, again, is that there don't seem to be too many of these programs available.
Office based social skills groups that meet once a week don't seem to be quite as helpful, because kids with adhd tend to have difficulty retrieving the learning that occurs in between sessions.
The Next Best Thing
The next best thing/alternative to intensive social skills training is for us, as parents, to be working with kids in "real time" to discuss what helps and what does not help in social situations. Team up with your school social worker, if your child is involved in groups. Soak up all you can about social skills and problem solving. Become your child's coach and teacher.
There is a method called the social autopsy that can help you work with your child to better understand what works and what does not work in certain situations. Have your child think about different situations s/he will encounter the next day. Then discuss how it went at the end of the day. Talk about what worked and what did not work. In this way, social thinking will hopefully become a way of life for your child.
Value your child for who s/he is. There are many gifted and talented people with ADD/ADHD who think outside the box, are great inventors, and great entrepeneurs. Help your child identify her/his strengths.
Spend quality time with your child. Help her/him understand that you love her/him unconditionally.
Become a student. Learn as much as you can about ADD/ADHD. Go to classes held at your local mental health agency or school. But don't become consumed by your learning. Relax.
Let your child teach you. Each child is different. Have patience and learn to really listen to your child's point of view.
This article is a reprint of an article I wrote last year (I'm the author)